With the possible exception of bunnies and baby chicks, is there anything else that announces the arrival of springtime (in England at least) like the daffodil? Maybe your humble writer is overstating it a bit, having grown up in the picturesque city of York, where at this time of year the iconic Roman walls that sit atop grassy knolls around the city are famously emblazoned with the white and yellow blooms.
It makes a perfect sort of sense that daffodils would play a role amidst such perfectly preserved ancient ruins - daffodils can be traced back as far as the Ancient Greeks, appearing in classic literature by the likes of botanist Dioscoridos and Theophrastus, who succeeded none other than Aristotle in the Peripatetic school. Basically, those lolling yellow flowers that you take for granted were bystanders throughout rich strands of our shared history, from the ancient Greeks through to medieval and renaissance times and beyond (did somebody say, ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud…?’).
The genus name for daffodils is Narcissus, though no one quite knows why, particularly as the name is thought to predate the earliest tellings of the famous myth about the self-obsessed youth. The most convincing link to that particular tale seems less concerned with symbolism and more simply to do with how the heads of daffodils, as they bend and peer down over streams, could be said to resemble Narcissus as he looked down into his own reflection. As you might expect given its prevalence at the advent of Spring, daffodils have come to symbolise rebirth and new beginnings - something we can all celebrate as the sun becomes an increasingly present character in our lives once more!